New LAX Star Alliance Lounge/Tom Bradley International Terminal
Singapore A380 Suites, Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita
ANA Suite Lounge (Satellite 4) and United Club, Tokyo-Narita
Singapore A380 Suites, Tokyo-Narita to Singapore
Singapore Changi Ambassador Transit Hotel, Terminal 3
Singapore Airlines Private Room (and a day in Singapore)
Singapore Airlines NEW Boeing 777-300ER First Class, Singapore to Mumbai
Singapore Airlines #11
Los Angeles (LAX) – Tokyo Narita (NRT)
Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
2:15pm – 6:20pm (+1) : 11 hours, 05 minutes
Airbus A380-800: Suite 3F (Suites Class)
I walked down the jetway to Door M1L, reserved for Suites passengers. One of the flight attendants came just outside the doorway to greet me and escorted me to my seat 3F. Row 3 is the only row that has 3 windows in it. Row 1 and 2 are more private, but they have a staircase to the upper deck right next to them. Row 4 is closer to the galley. I preferred my Row 3 selection (although I am a big window seat guy, so having 3 windows was a big positive).
I began snapping photos of the suite, while flight attendants came by with pajamas, amenity kits, menu, and champagne. One of the flight attendants was extremely apologetic that the First Class slippers hadn’t been loaded in LAX and offered the business class “slippers” instead, apologizing profusely.
The champagne uncorked on the ground was Dom Perignon 2003, a vintage that didn’t have such high marks (especially when I tried it on Emirates a couple years ago). I asked if the 2004 was available since it was on the menu but a flight attendant told me “no.” Damn, that sucks. It wasn’t until later that I realized that the 2004 would be available in the air, just not on the ground.
I only had about 2 glasses of champagne as I sent some quick texts and emails to friends and family before being without wifi (wifi was advertised on the flight, but as I expected, it didn’t work). The Inflight Supervisor came by to introduce himself and notified me of a 10h40m journey to Tokyo Narita once we took off, as well as answered any questions about the suite.
One thing about cabins like this is that there are no overhead bins, which is where I usually keep my carryons – a 22″ roller and a backpack that holds my laptop/iPad/things I need quickly in reach. I could only put my roller under the bench across the seat, while my backpack was temporarily placed in a storage closet for takeoff (and brought back to me immediately without having to ask for it).
One thing I love about LAX is just how many different types of airlines fly out of here, and departing Tom Bradley, I was treated to quite an array of liveries. This was my first time departing LAX on an A380, so I was confused about our police escort to the runway, until I realized it was probably because of how large our jet was.
We took off on the “In’n’Out runway” (I guess 24R? That’s how I distinguish runways at LAX – whether they’re next to In’n’Out or not) and climbed west until the turn north along the California coast. Row 3 has an excellent view of the engines and wing.
I had ordered a Singapore Sling as my “drink after takeoff” because I was under the assumption that the Dom onboard was the 2003 (plus when else am I going to order a Sling?!). However, one of the crew members informed me that the 2004 vintage was available in the air and asked if I wanted that or the Krug. I responded, “I don’t know,” as I hadn’t tried the 2004. The flight attendant began to redeem himself, responding, “why don’t I bring you both to allow you to taste them?” SQ flight attendants are the best. An in-flight champagne tasting, at their suggestion? This is definitely the Good Life – yes, Kanye, I have popped champagne on a plane.
The 2004 Dom was the eventual winner. A few more flights were poured in its honor. I shut the two window shades in the suite that face the aisle, as the rear one blocked my view of the two seats in the middle, as well as the doors and pumped up my iPod.
About 1h45m into the flight, dinner was served. I posted earlier that it’s possible to request your menu in advance, so I didn’t need to peruse the menu too much. I had ordered a Book the Cook order of Lobster Thermidor and kept with that, opting for the caviar and pork soup as my starters.
After each course, a flight attendant would knock on the suite door to clear any dishes. Their timing was always impeccable, though I later realized that the suite’s window shades have a mesh at the bottom that allows those in the aisle to peek in. (No hanky-panky in the doubles suites yo!).
After dinner, I reclined the seat back and watched a couple of movies, one of them being Fast & Furious 6 (every time someone mentioned the character “Dom”, I took a swig of champagne. My glass was kept topped off and I soon lost track of the plot, if there was one). Halfway through the movie, I decided to switch to bed mode.
I changed into my pajamas while my bed was made and slept for about 4.5 hours, waking up with 2.5 hours remaining in-flight. I don’t know how SQ flight attendants do it, because within a minute of waking up (and not opening the suite doors), I had a Singapore Girl asking if I wanted anything. A donut from Randy’s sounds good. “And would you like more champagne?” Well if you insist.
I decided to stay in bed while watching “The Butler,” a great film. About 90 minutes outside of Tokyo, the light meal was served.
And with about 25 minutes to landing, preparations for arrival began.
Upon arrival at the gate, 3 jetways met our A380, but Suites passengers were given more time to disembark and hit transit security first. I could tell because as I exited our A380, I was greeted by another SQ A380 at the neighboring gate, operating SQ 12 in the other direction. I stayed back to take photos but no other passengers exited the plane for several minutes. It made getting through transit security very easy.
To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed by the service on the flight. I think Singapore Airlines’ First Class service has been played up so much that I had high expectations, and the crew had to deal with a full 12/12 Suites Class on this flight. Every time I tried to engage them in conversation, they respond with a couple sentences and would disappear. That isn’t to say they weren’t great compared to other airlines – every time I pushed the call button (which was at most 3 times maybe), I had someone within 5 seconds. It’s just I had better interactions with the crew on my subsequent Thai and Lufthansa flights.
Still, the hard product on this plane is fantastic. Since Suites is on the main deck, it gives a much roomier feel than similar A380 First products on the top deck (like Emirates). I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to try the full double bed since Suites was full on both legs, but even the single side was more than enough.